Thursday, June 5, 2014

Torn Tattered and Battered: A poem about my Sierra struggles

The first week in the Sierras was both extremely beautiful and challenging. The mountains and passes I went over were the tallest and snowiest of the entire PCT. We started the Sierra section from Kennedy Meadows where it takes two full days to get into the real mountains. I carried about 25 lbs of food out and expected it to last until Vermillion Valley Resort about 8 days later. I climbed Mt. Whitney(a spur trail) with a group of friends and then split off as they went to resupply in the town of Lone Pine. On that day I went over both Forester and Glen pass, the two hardest passes of the PCT. The magnitude of Sierra Mountains is something I am still trying to grasp. The passes are all covered with snow above 10,000 feet and my walking speed turns into a crawl as I punch through waist deep snow and scramble over rocks. After a day of this you are more tired than  you ever thought possible. Keep in mind that I have been hiking for more than a month straight. I mean really tired. 
With enough food and a healthy body this section is very doable and fun for the most part. About 3 days out from my next resupply my body and food supply became a big issue. 
My skin was in total rebellion as my feet cracked and my back rubbed raw from my pack. I didn't carry enough lotion to care for all my failing limbs and each hour my skin got worse. My legs were also raw and covered in cuts from post holing in the snow and my hands had half inch cuts at my thumb and hand joint making gripping things very painful. I also was badly sunburned through my shirt! I don't think my skin has ever been in such bad shape. All of this was exacerbated by my dwindling supply of calories. 
The miles were coming allot slower than I expected and what should have taken 8 days, took 10. I had to spread 5,000 calories over three days which is ridiculous in terms of mountain hiking. I can eat 7000 calories a day while hiking and still loose weight! The hunger lead to depression and hopelessness that slowed the hours and blinded me from the beauty all around me. I am terribly regretful for not resupplying in lone pine, not because how shitty I felt, but because I didn't appreciate every second in those wonderful mountains. 
This poem was written in my head and was sort of a turning point as I hit rock bottom eating my last meal by a raging creek. It became my mantra as I powered over the last pass before resupply.


Torn, tattered and battered 
These last few miles have nearly left me shattered

Walking for days on barbie doll rations
The hunger destroys all passions

Look through my pack for an upper
Scarf cold mashed potatoes like its my last supper

The pain comes as I begin to hike
How can I even tell you what it's like

My hands are cut 
My feet are cracked
Im scared to even look at my back

So sunburned, dry, and raw
I wonder why I am out here at all

Curse God, Curse Moses
Why do I have to carry this Ichythyosis

The snow is too soft
The ice is too slick
The mountains are too tall
The water is too deep
My feet are too cold
I am too tired


This is not me
I don't sit on a throne of self-pity

Plow through the snow 
Like an angry buffalo

On the pass, scream in wild voice
Tears in my eyes cause happiness is a choice. 

am now in the town of Mammoth Lakes, taking a much needed day off. Lots of fresh vegetables, pizza, and brewery tours.  


  1. Brian, at your weakest you are stronger than most! What an inspiration you are to all of us.